USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis departed San Diego May 6 for Composite Training Unit Exercise, and one facet of underway life aboard an aircraft carrier is proper waste management.
Stennis' sustainable solid waste management goes far beyond the traditional recycling of cans, bottles, plastics and cardboard. It calls on the entire crew to play an active role in sorting trash so Stennis can operate without wasting money or harming the environment.
"Waste management is a work center to help recycle aboard Stennis," said Machinist's Mate Fireman Patricia Quick, a waste management technician. "Recycling protects the environment and it saves the government thousands of dollars by utilizing our own equipment."
According to Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Leo Wright, Waste Management's leading petty officer, Stennis processes approximately 100,000 lbs of plastic, 300,000 lbs of processed metal and glass, and 200,000 lbs of cardboard per month while out to sea. All of this combined is enough to equal to the weight of approximately 100 elephants.
"I think our Sailors do a great job at doing something that they're not normally accustomed to in their rate," said Wright. "It's not the cleanest job in the Navy nor is it the most desired, but our Sailors work hard to keep Stennis trash free."
Stennis' waste management is a work center in Engineering Department's A-Division. It is made up of six machinist's mates who act as equipment technicians and leadership, and 20 temporarily assigned duty (TAD) Sailors who act as trash processors in each of the ship's four waste processing rooms.
"The Sailors that are assigned to waste management work center are solely there to process the ship's trash," said Wright. "We post two or three TAD Sailors at each waste room. They stand their trash watch and then are relieved by an incoming watch team. Someone is always at a trash room 24 hours a day."
Each waste room is designed to accept certain types of trash, such as metal, glass, pulpables and plastic. Waste rooms four and six each have a plastic shredder and three compressed melting units.
"In waste room three there's a pulper," said Cruz. "The pulper is like a big garbage disposal, which helps process and break down trash. Metals and glass are shredded, put into a burlap sack and thrown overboard."
Although it may seem the Navy is polluting, they're not. What is being thrown overboard is considered biodegradable.
Stennis' plastics are melted down into plastic discs, similar to a hockey puck but 20 times as large, and are stocked in a tri-wall, a deep, heavy duty box, in hangar bay three. The "pucks" are craned off when Stennis pulls into port and shipped off to be recycled. Food is also processed by a pulper. It is shredded and discharged into the sea.
The incinerator burns up to 1,200 degrees Celsius and operates with JP-5 fuel to burn paper, rags and small pieces of wood into ash in mere seconds.
"After 16 hours of burning, we secure the incinerator so we can clean out all of the ashes and throw them overboard," said Cruz.
Cardboard from all departments aboard Stennis is smashed down into a bail located in hangar bay three, banded up and craned off onto the pier to be recycled.
Stennis' waste management only accepts trash while underway. Sailors should be aware of what is being thrown away so waste management can continue their main focus of processing and recycling ship's trash without wasting money or harming the environment.
For more news from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.